By George Rosenthal

The beta version of Apple’s iOS 10 operating system has been made available to programmers and app developers. Targeted for public release this fall the system is touted as Apple’s biggest overhaul since the launch of iOS 7. 

Though some believe it is more of slight upgrade than a major redesign, it offers users many enhancements and significant improvements in functionality.

On first glance iOS 10 offers a few visual changes. First the phone “wakes up” when you lift it, something similar to the Apple Watch. All notifications can be seen right away without going past them with Touch ID. There is a new lockscreen and more emphasis on the iMessage along with some other widgets which feature new bigger and bolder visual language.

Apple has replaced the “slide to unlock” message with “press home to unlock”. If you swipe to the left you can see a widget view. Swipe to the right and you can launch the camera.

The lockscreen widgets are a nice touch. In a quick glance you can see the weather, news, upcoming calendar events and more based on your preferences. You can edit and expand them. It appears they will be more useful than widgets of past versions. 

Apple has spruced up the lockscreen notifications into rounded grey boxes. The 3-D touching brings a nice quick reply option.

Want to send a message? You can write them in your own handwriting or alter the way the message bubbles look. iOS 10 allows you to send quick “Tapback” responses and even add animation.

“Home” allows you to navigate your thermostat and power from the HomeKit application. This app has been streamlined with lots of functionality. You can turn off the heat, switch on the lights, and control a connected plug socket all from one app.

Apple Music applications have been cleaned up too. It is faster, cleaner and easier to see the songs you have downloaded, and quicker to find playlists according to your tastes.

AI functionality will be coming to some photo applications. This includes new facial and location detection capabilities, more powerful search, and a new tab called “Memories” that turns photos into highlight-style reels based around location and people.

Many in business will appreciate that the Siri personal assistant has also been updated. Apple has released it to the developer community. Third party apps can now speak to her. These will include Uber, Slack, Skype, WhatsApp and more. When complete you will be able to order a taxi have food delivered etc. 

Apple Pay will be available with iOS 10 to make web purchases. One can authorize payments on the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on website checkout screens.

For apps you never use, iOS 10 enables you to now delete them. Default applications remain but others can be clipped.

The new system should be available sometime in the September, 2016 timeframe for most recent Apple devices. iPhones will be updated first. Changes to the iPad will be available shortly thereafter.

While certainly a step forward those expecting more widespread changes could be disappointed. Still Apple is trying to take a decade old operating system and make it fresh, fun and even futuristic. Thus far it appears they are on their way to achieving that goal.